BREWER, Maine — City councilors have endorsed unanimously a plan to create a citizen advisory committee with Bangor charged with finding ways the two cities can save money by working together — but not before Councilor Joseph Ferris disapproved of one of the five new members.
“I am opposed to putting Gail Kelly on this committee,” he said at the Tuesday evening meeting, referring to a former council member. “It just seems to be not appropriate.”
Ferris said that Kelly’s initial opposition to the creation of the joint committee in 2009 should disqualify her from sitting on the panel, but other members of the City Council came to her defense.
“Yes, Gail was opposed to this committee to begin with … but Gail will be an extra-good person on that board,” Councilor Larry Doughty said. “She’ll be looking out for Brewer. That’s what I expect her to do.”
Councilors Manley DeBeck and Doughty, along with Kelly, who lost her council seat to Jerry Goss in November, voiced concerns about creating the joint committee several times last year. DeBeck said Tuesday that they did so because of the wording of the original order, which mandated annual cuts of $1.5 million.
“We were against it the way it was written,” he said. “I didn’t like that it wasn’t an advisory committee, and I didn’t like the $1.5 million. Those items have gone away.”
All along, the three members opposed to the measure said that they were not against the two communities working together, but didn’t like the original order’s wording.
Councilor Goss said he was the one who recommended Kelly for the committee because he knew she would do her best to represent Brewer.
Mayor Arthur “Archie” Verow ended the discussion by saying the new committee is ready to get to work. It is expected to meet later this month.
After the meeting, Kelly said she was saddened by Ferris’ statements, but said she was looking forward to doing the best job she could for the city, especially given the hard economic times the region and country are facing. “I love this city,” she said.
The joint 14-member committee includes the city managers and finance directors from both cities, and five committee members from each.
Along with Kelly, who is state director for U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe and a former mayor, others appointed to the board are: Jim Mullen, a retired banker; Lester Young, former business manager for the school department; Joe Cote, plant manager at Cianbro’s Eastern Manufacturing Facility; and Bev Uhlenhake, a commercial real estate agent and Brewer Planning Board member.
Bangor’s five members, who were approved at that city’s council meeting, are: Bill Lucy, president of Merrill Bank; John Simpson, president of the board of Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems; Thom Johnston, president of the New England School of Communications at Husson University; Evelyn Silver, senior adviser to the president of the University of Maine; and the Rev. Bob Carlson of Penobscot Community Health Care.
During the meeting the board also:
— Renewed another three-year public-private cooperative ambulance agreement with Meridian Mobile Health LLC, which operates as Capital Ambulance.
— Accepted a $3,299 grant from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistant Grant Program to buy first-aid supplies, and spare magazines and ammunition for the Brewer Police Department, and another $3,000 grant from Wal-Mart to buy TVs for the new public safety building.
— Hired CES Inc. of Brewer, for $44,960, to design and provide full-time inspection, administration and survey services for the landfill consolidation project.
— Endorsed the extension of Sid Arey Drive past the landfill to a lot set aside for the Maine Liquid Methane Fuels plant. The company is paying to extend the dirt road.
— Was presented with the results of the annual audit by Casey Leonard of Runyon, Kersteen, Ouellette of South Portland and Finance Director Karen Fussell, which shows the city has good financial standing.